AROUND half a million commuters had their journeys to work interrupted on June 7 owing to a power cut. This mainly concerned services into Paris St-Lazare, but trains serving termini at Nord, Lyon and Montparnasse were also affected. Altogether, about 250 trains were cancelled or delayed.

This was not a technical failure like those that caused blackouts in Italy, the UK and the USA last year. Behind the cut in current lay a protest by staff at electricity supplier Electricité de France against the government’s proposals to privatise the company.

Train services were so badly disrupted that French National Railways has decided to take EDF to court. There is now a prospect of watching two state-owned companies doing legal battle with each other.

Parallels could perhaps be drawn with an incident reported in the Polish-language daily Nowy Dziennik during May when all services on Poland’s Central Trunk Line from Warszawa to Katowice and Krakow were suspended for 4h because of a power cut, with trains diverted via Piotrkow Trybunalski and Czestochowa. The reason in this case was the non-payment of electricity bills by PKP Energetyka, which in turn is owed payment by regional operator PKP Przewozy Regionalne.